'Kick in the teeth' if bridge connecting coastal resorts closes over summer
- Credit: Archant
Calls have been made to bring forward or delay repair works on the footbridge connecting Southwold and Walberswick so the project doesn't affect the "critical holiday period".
The Bailey bridge between the two seaside resorts was temporarily closed on safety grounds in 2018 after a report found "severe corrosion" in the structure's support beams.
The bridge over the River Blyth has reopened since then, but the highways team at Suffolk County Council has said repair works at a cost of around £750,000 are due to take place at some point this year.
The planned refurbishment will see the bridge close for several weeks.
Community leaders have urged the county council to bring forward or delay the project as it could help the Suffolk coast in its recovery from the coronavirus lockdown.
A petition has been launched on Change.org calling for the repairs to be carried out "before or after the critical holiday period".
It has gathered nearly 1,500 signatures on the website.
David Beavan, town and district councillor for Southwold, said: "It is absolutely vital that the bridge is repaired. It's all part of the holiday experience here.
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"People in Walberswick are absolutely incensed - they're essentially cut off from Southwold.
"This is a real kick in the teeth for our economy.
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"The council says repairs will take three months. That means that if the government roadmap goes to plan, our local hospitality businesses will be hit just as they come out of lockdown. The timing could not be worse."
A spokesman for the county council said a date for the start of the project is yet to be finalised.
The spokesman said: "Refurbishment of the Bailey bridge connecting Southwold and Walberswick is scheduled to take place this year.
"The bridge is currently in an extremely poor condition and as such requires full refurbishment so that it can remain open in the long term. We have organised to meet key community representatives on March 22 where the refurbishment will be discussed alongside its impact.
"We are committed to keeping these communities safe and connected - in doing so, it is essential that we work together to find the most viable solution for all those who benefit from using this bridge."